Reigning US Open men’s doubles champion Horia Tecau is more than just a tennis player – he’s also a humanitarian and the author of the kids’ book, “Life is Like a Tennis Game.”
UNICEF ambassador Tecau wanted to inspire children and share the life lessons and experiences he's collected through traveling the world and playing tennis.
And at Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Net Generation, held on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Saturday, Tecau donated hundreds of copies of his book to youngsters.
The Romanian 33-year-old signed books for almost 300 children and posed for hundreds of photos, as youngsters visited the table at the US Open Book Store near Court 13.
“The inspiration behind it is that a lot of tennis players, me especially, went through this process of growing up playing tennis and loving sports but sometimes dealing with a lot of difficulties, like mixing sports with school, needing support from the parents or not winning when you're young and want to do well,” Tecau said.
“A lot of the experiences that I went through, I learned a lot from them with the help of others, and I thought about using all of those experiences to put it in a book that I would have liked to read when I was their age.”
Zhamyr Cueva and Erica Diaz brought their 4-year-old son Zhamyr Aiden Cueva to Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day for the first time, and the parents said it was a great way to expose their child to tennis.
“This is his first US Open, and we're enjoying ourselves. It's family time,” Zhamra Cueva said. “This way he gets involved at an early age, especially when he enjoys it, as well. It's fun, and he can interact with other kids. It's fun to bring him to the US Open.”
In addition to the free books given out to children on Saturday, Tecau also donated books to FearlesslyGirl – an organization aimed at empowering young women and supported by Madison Keys – and to fans attending the legends’ doubles clinic on Sunday.
“All the lessons that I learned through my career, I wanted to share with the children that might be going through the same types of issues or problems,” Tecau said. “I've learned a lot through tennis, not only as an athlete but as a man, and I wanted to share that with those who are starting to play the sport. I wanted to show them what they can learn through sport.
“What helped me a lot through the years was having all of the activities with children at the events, and you see how much they love playing tennis and playing with us. Just being around them, that's the time when they need support the most.“
As part of the research for his children’s book, Tecau visited a school and spoke with students aged 7 to 14 and asked them what they were going through and what issues were important to them.
“Sports – and tennis, especially – always had role models, not just on the court, but off the court, as well,” he said. “I, myself, am inspired by the work of [Roger] Federer, [Rafael] Nadal, [Andy] Murray and [Novak] Djokovic. Everybody has a foundation and is involved, and everybody is giving back to the sport and to tennis, so I was a lot inspired to do it. When I started it, I realized how much I appreciated it and how much I'm offering.
“It's important for kids to play outdoor activities, to play sport, to learn discipline, to learn working on a team, to learn to respect coaches and your opponents, finding solutions in tough moments, learning how to deal with losses, and finding courage and believing in yourself. There's a lot of things you can learn from sport. All these kids’ activities encourage kids to pick up a sport, especially tennis, since we're here at the US Open and Arthur Ashe Kids' Day.”